So yesterday I gave you a homework assignment. It was to write down people in your life who either “fill your cup” or “empty your cup.” The cup represents your life.
Your cup never needs to be empty, but it also never needs to be overflowing. You give out some of yourself to fill the other people’s cups in your life. It is through these exchanges of truly mutual friendship that we are able to find our best self. A scenario could be that your best friend hit a tough time, so he or she might need to chat on the phone or confide in you. In essence of the meaning, in this moment that friend may be emptying your cup.
The cup needs to have a balance in it. Your life will never be completely devoid of people who “empty your cup.” People that empty your cup might be people who you work with, but you have to interact with them. Maybe a guy at work is just a total downer and he “empties your cup.” If you have to work with him day in and day out, find a way to have your cup filled when you get home. You have to decide practically with jobs, school, work, or general life responsibilities that those might require you to have people emptying your cup. So in turn dating a person who you put on the “empty your cup side” might not be practical.
If you are constant to surround yourself with more people who empty your cup then fill it, you may be trying to fix the people around you. The only one who can fix them is themselves. So take this time and consideration to start making your own life better by getting more people in your life that fill your cup. Interact with these people on a regular basis. If you get fulfillment out of helping others, make a weekly hobby of helping out somewhere or volunteering for a cause you love. Make a new list and incorporate things you do and places you go into that new list. A draining place might be work, but a place to fill your cup might be the gym. Household chores might be draining, but joining a social club might fill your cup. There will be balance as you allow yourself to find it. Being in constant awareness of this exercise will help you keep your energy and focus on things and people who give and take with a balance.
Today’s article will be the first part of two. This is a very insightful homework assignment that I once did myself. I also continue to do it as needed.
What I want you to do is make a list. I want you to make a list with two sides. One side is titled “people who fill your cup” and the other side is titled “people who empty your cup.”
Your “cup” is your life. Some people add positive aspects to your life and in essence fill your cup. Others might be negative, unsupportive, or constant drama and empty your cup. I will elaborate more on the meaning tomorrow, but for today, I want you to make that list. When you make the list if you find yourself mulling over someone for too long, that is a strong indication that they might belong in the “empty your cup” side. (Just make the list and don’t think too much).
This list can be made up of anyone you are in relationship with. It can be family, friends, co-workers, people you date, people you are interested in, or anyone else that takes up at least a portion of your week on a regular basis. It can’t be your barista at Starbucks just because you see him or her each morning! This should be people of influence or condition in your life.
Tomorrow’s article will elaborate on the meaning of your list and what to do with it now.
If you recall Einstein was responsible for the theory of relativity. He said, “Time is relative.” It also turns out that some other findings by Isaac Newton lead to that discovery. Now, I know little about theses theories, little about astronomy, and much less about physics. I do know one thing, however. The more I searched for and longed for happiness myself, the more I learned about where to find it. You see, happiness is also relative. It is relative to the observer who is measuring it. It is relative to what sort of ruler you are using to gauge where it is you want to go.
For me, the happiness ruler was finding an equilibrium. It was finding a balance between work and play. It was figuring out how to be content as a constant searcher. It was learning how to know and trust myself, and make up my own definition for happy.
Now I recently, after ten years of searching, found a profession that I love and I am good at. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist who still gets to incorporate an enjoyment for writing and research into the profession. I continue to gain insight and education by some of the best in the field. Once that part of the ruler was settled, much more seemed to be measurable.
What I’ve learned in the Search for Happiness:
1. Self- Help books or articles that proclaim to know “How to Find Happiness” are shining moments like the motivational video that I posted last night. They give you a boost to start your engine. Once the engine starts, it is up to you to find that path. No book, article, or moment can get you there.
2. Learning how to live in the now has increased my happiness significantly. This is not because I am not a planner. I plan. In fact I have my planner scheduled out to May of 2014. Learning how to live in the now required that I do one thing at a time. If I am eating, I eat. If I am writing, I write. If I am watching a movie, I watch that movie. I noticed that decreasing the busy-ness that I had created in my life, decreased anxiety and increased enjoying life’s moments.
3. Bad Habits replaced with good ones. I was in my old hometown this October when a girlfriend of mine mentioned that she had stopped giving her kids milk because of all the hormones. This got me thinking a lot. Although it is difficult to ever be perfect, I made some very important changes in regards to eating more organic, taking more vitamins, and exercising. Exercising releases dopamine and (at least for me) eating organic and getting the proper vitamins has helped significantly.
4. Taking up a hobby that resembles nothing close to work. For me, I began DIY. I had a passion for crafts and art growing up, so I wanted to bring that back into my adult life. Now I enjoy my job and writing, but it was important for me to pick a hobby that allowed my mind to get as far away from thinking as possible.
5. I always used to say never instead of never saying always. It has been important in my search for happiness to learn about balance in all areas. I stopped (most of the time) using words that imply all or nothing such as never and always. Sometimes I slip up and sometimes I don’t. I allow myself grace to not eat organic sometimes or to miss days at the gym. Staying consistent leads to happiness more than extreme life changes of short duration.
Finding happiness now is relative, because you will journey through figuring out how to be happy over and over again. And now will be relative to where you are in your life and what you are doing. Cheers to finding your happiness now and constantly enjoying the ride.
There are a lot of people in my profession and laymen alike that believe looking into the past will not help one to make changes in their future. I should know, I used to be one of them. I was jaded by Freud’s Oedipus complex and a didn’t see that looking into the past didn’t have to be so controversial. It’s about looking into our past to gain insight, not to point blame. It took me years to finally understand that.
When it came to looking at my past I had three reactions; defensive, blaming, then understanding. As a teen when I began therapy my defenses and my ideas about life were often (in my own mind) very precedent and very correct. My world was all or nothing as a teen. My poor mother must have heard, “you have no idea what it’s like” millions of times raising three teen girls all at once. We can now begin to rationalize that she walked in those shoes too. For most of us, no “life lesson” from an adult sits well until we reach the age of 30 and begin to see the world a little more grey. I spent the middle part of my 20′s blaming everyone around me for the outcomes in my life. Then the last couple of years happen and as a therapist in training I began to see that understanding our past is worth the observation; to make connections, then to learn how to change into better selves for our future.
I simply ask you to take a peak at your past and get a baseline of understanding for how it feeds the present. What we learn as children is ingrained in us and we must not blame our parents or caretakers for that. Nelson Mandela said this in his book “Long Walk to Freedom:”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We can be taught things, but if we need to be “untaught” them later, it is possible. This rings very similar to a book worth mentioning that helped me anticipate options for this article called, “Addicted to Unhappiness.” It discusses the importance of knowing the experiences of your past to see how they influence you today. Without having knowledge of your past, you may not be digging deep enough to the root of your self. Your patterns and behaviors are a result of what you learned as a young child. When you know more about your past through understanding and leave blame behind, you can maintain higher results for resolution in the future.
I sat with my roommate and her boyfriend today as we chatted about the first of 30 posts. That first was going to be on the topic of motivation. As my motivation for writing decreased I began to wonder how I would strike up drive each day for 30 days in order to finish the task of writing into the New Year. Writing about motivation today seemed ironic. I sat watching old Friends reruns and ate a Hershey’s bar as I pondered, what drives us to accomplish things?
Then half a Hershey’s Bar later, I figured out some of the keys to motivation: Accountability, Inspiration, Humor, and Amy.
Accountability: I was accountable to each and every reader to write one post for 30 days and by announcing it, I was holding myself to a standard to be accountable to myself and others. Accountability is different from goals. Goals are often measurable, but accountability is part of our ethical beings.
Inspiration: I often read articles and watch video clips to get ideas flowing. We can be inspired by stories, people, or other’s motivation. Inspiration is a way to provide a jump-start to motivation.
Humor: Keep laughing. No one can be motivated by the actual lemons life tends to give us. So if you can keep laughing, you tend to be able to keep going.
Amy: (Insert your desired friend here). Amy is my little sister and best friend, whom has been a hero of mine for a long time. When I am too emotional about something, I know she will be the voice of reason. She has always taken initiative and does so with so much humor and grace that I am honored to have her in my life. Having someone in your life who can be your pseudo-rational self in emotional times is essential. Motivation takes place in ration, emotional states leave us crippled and jaded.
If I hadn’t understood my ability to search for my motivation, you would not be reading this post. I’d be an unhappy, unaccomplished writer with a candy wrapper and a second season of Friends playing. Motivation doesn’t just happen, it needs to be promoted. Accountability, inspiration, humor, and being surrounded by good people are essential. Motivation is not intrinsic. You have to work for it.
With the Holiday season under way and 2014 right around the corner, I wanted to take the next 30 days to discuss ideas of self-awareness to gain a better understanding of you and the role you take in your relationships. This series will lead up to possible goals for the upcoming New Year; whether you will be finding a new love, rekindling an old love, working on a broken love, or even falling in love with your new you.
Unlearning Yourself by Learning You is a new series I have been working on to help you understand your relationship and more importantly yourself. I look forward to the next 30 days to help in many ways and to create a dialogue in my readers with themselves or their significant others.
The idea of unlearning yourself is breaking some of the negative reactions or patterns that we have to other people and ourselves. Learning you will be a journey through the past, to work on the present, and to help build more positive outcomes in your future.
Although this is a 30- day series, constant awareness of one’s self and strive for improvement are daily tasks. A one-time New Year’s epiphany will not facilitate real change, but an understanding of oneself can begin the growth process.
I hope you find this series helpful and humbling as we journey through it together.
I was listening to Loveline with Dr. Drew the other night. I overheard him say this to one of the callers, “Intensity is not love.” I sat with that for a moment and began to unpack what it means to have intensity in a relationship.
Intensity is not what the majority of us know as “Butterflies;” that initial warm tingling feeling that we get when we see that person or when we think about them when they are away. Intensity is much different. Butterflies are driven by the same oxytocin hormone, but the intensity is like an addiction and can be driven by negative triggers in the oxytocin. The intensity lies in large and fast amounts of this “love hormone” resulting later in opposite behaviors like jealousy and envy; although these emotions might not come through at the beginning of the intensity, these emotions can take effect after the intensity is over or during its intensity.
Intensity is mostly felt by those who experience relationships through insecure/anxious attachments or avoidant attachments. Secure attachments are the healthy attachments that allow us to get the proper doses of oxytocin at the proper times and allow for quality trust and bond building.
When the brain and body illicit butterfly feelings, once those feelings go away our bodies do not crave or seek out those feelings. We have landed in a comfortable place when we stop feeling those initial rushes of emotion; comfort and security override those feelings. However when we feel intensity, it is never enough when it goes away; it is the chaos that we constantly feel or seek out in the unhealthy relationship.
When thinking about a specific someone who makes you have intense feelings, some of which can even create some anxiety, listen to your body more and take the time to acknowledge what the relationship or person is actually doing in your life.
You can also take this QUIZ to review your attachment style. Ask yourself if intensity is something you crave. Look into understanding your attachment style to make better and healthier connections with your partners in the future.
With so much in our lives to keep us busy, it is difficult to get quality time to connect with your significant other. Maybe you are constantly rushing out the door for work or school; you might be picking up the kids for a quick second only to get them dressed and right out the door again for soccer practice. You might be in the middle of a big move or frustration may have kicked in about a big life change. Whatever the situation, it is important that we continue to develop and sustain rituals in our relationships.
Too often, couples are missing the quality connection because they are rushing off to the next event or hammering out the next big project.
Allowing time for your partner can help alleviate some of life’s stress, while at the same time creating quality romance and bonding.
Rituals can help you connect to your partner. Life can get busy and overwhelming, and before you know it disconnection has happened in your relationship.
Develop a ritual in your relationship to stay connected such as:
- Walks outside
- Romantic baths together
- Coffee and talk in the morning
- Watching a television show together
- Whatever you choose make sure you are connecting.
- You might not talk, but during the television show you can playfully sit on your partner’s lap or spoon on the couch.
- Make sure the rituals contain an intention physical and emotional connection, such as talk and touch.
- Remove any distractions such as smart phones or work emails.
Sit down together and think about what would be meaningful to you and your partner. It is important that you understand how each of you connects with one another. In an earlier article, we discussed the five love languages quiz: this can help show you how to romantically engage with your partner. Here is a link to the quiz: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
First, understand what makes your partner feel connected to you. Then, develop rituals around those languages that can connected you on a regular basis.